Live: New Sounds of the North @ Quay House
By Tom Hickman
New Sounds of the North
1 and a half stars
Before anything else, let this be heard first: Now Wave are doing a brilliant job on the Manchester music scene, introducing great new acts, and providing the baying public – students and music lovers alike – with ample opportunity to unearth some of the hottest musical talent. They rarely put on a bad band. I love them. There I’ve said it. But now I’ve said it, I must say that this evening they got it all wrong.
On paper, the whole night had real potential; PINS had been growing in popularity in recent months and receiving a lot of hype, No Ceremony were bringing their ethereal first-time show to Manchester, and the city’s own Money were sure to impress.
It promised to be a real showcase of the ‘New Sounds of the North’. To top it off, there was the mystery and potential brilliance of a disused office block as the venue. The only downside was surely going to be the sheer volume of peaked-cap wearing morons cluttering up the place. That was the only downside, until the music started.
Sound quality was poor throughout, as sets were littered with feedback and sound errors; whilst if you were anywhere further back than the first ten rows, you were more likely to hear the most minute details of some of the bollocks being spouted from the mouths of the majority of guests, than any of the music. PINS were chosen to play at the most illogically unsociable time of 6:15, whereas Money’s performance suggested an ironical name choice from the band, as I fear that is precisely what this quartet will not be making, if their haphazard, offensive performances continue in the same vein. To top it all off, the elongated wait between No Ceremony and Money was delightfully accompanied by the ten-minute cry of the fire alarm, as only a hoodie draped over the wailing siren served to partially silence the din.
The only saving grace was the headline act. Post fire alarm, Alt-J provided the quality-starved customers with a watertight set crammed with energy and well-sculpted falsetto harmonies. Deciding to forgo the encore for a full-blooded lurch into ‘Fitzpleasure’, Quay House was shaken to its foundations, as the beautiful vocal lines flowed over smoothly disjointed guitar and keyboard shapes to bring the masses together in unified realisation that something listenable still does actually exist.
As I said, this isn’t an attack on Now Wave, or any of the bands playing (apart from Money, that is). This evening just did not work. From start to finish, mistakes littered the show’s entirety. Alt-J were good though.